The first article within this edition “From Belgrade to Beijing: Comparing Socialist Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe and China” by author Roland Boer offers a systematic, analysis of economic reforms in Eastern Europe and China against four comparative areas: de-linking a market economy from a capitalist system; whether a market economy is a neutral instrument usable in any system; planning and markets within a socialist system and the relationship between ownership of the means of production and liberation of productive forces in the process of socialist construction. This fourth comparative leads to a foundational question of the interactions between relations and forces of production, since on this matter the economic definition of socialism turns.
In his article “The Continuing Adventures of the Dialectic: On Roland Boer’s Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: A Guide for Foreigners” author Antonis Balasopoulos initially focuses on the forms and causes of Western “historical nihilism” toward the Chinese socialist project and continues to analyze Deng’s appeal to “liberating thought,” regarding development of the forces of production and the dilemmas this presents for socialists. This segues into a discussion of contradiction analysis, which is theoretically central in Boer’s book. After unpacking some of the central issues posed by the “reform and opening-up,” the article dwells on the question of socialism in China emphasizing complications inherent in the combination of socialist planning and the market economy, including the issue of the conception of a future or prospective “communist” stage. The article concludes looking at issues of law and political structure with focus on the innovative importance of “rule of law” in the socialist context.
“Political Economy of Strong Power: Formulation of the Problem” by Andrey Grimalyuk and Svetlana Danylina is devoted to the methodological problems of the political economy of socialism and provides a categorical distinction between the structural and dynamic dependencies of the political-economic system. It addresses two opposing dependencies within the political-economic system; structural dependence (object–subject direction) from productive forces to production relations and to state power and on the other hand dynamic dependence (subject–object direction) from state power to production relations and the conscious use of their objective laws for the development of productive forces. This subject–object dependence reaches its fullest embodiment under conditions of strong power, the standard of which is the political-economic system of contemporary China.
Within his article “Marx’s Social Capital Reproduction Model: A Technical Supplement” author Xian Zhang studies how Marx created the theory of social capital reproduction and shows that this theory ranks among his original contributions to economics. In this theory, Marx’s analysis of Department II and the exchange relation reveals the conditions that capitalist reproduction must follow if it is to proceed smoothly. Although, Marx proposed the decomposition of Department II and made a theoretical analysis of the law of the simple reproduction of social capital after decomposition, he did not construct a complete model. As a result, it is necessary to develop a technical supplement on the basis of Marx’s department decomposition principle, so as to cast light on the correctness of his theory of social capital reproduction and on the inevitability of capitalist reproduction crises.
Within his article “Elements for a Coherent Theory of Rent” author Christian Flamant highlights how the question of rent in economic theory is complicated, even by definition and attempts to get back to basics in order to clarify and present a complete and correct theory of rent. Starting with the classical definition of rent, as an income earned by the owner of non-produced inputs, it clarifies definitions of differential rent and absolute rent. Using a step-by-step approach this article addresses the effect of different types of rent on a price system and the issue of type II differential rent, corresponding to the use of different techniques with a homogeneous input. This helps to explain the effect of rent on the distribution of the product. The question of urban land rent is also clarified to show that it obeys mechanisms different to those governing agricultural land rent.
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WAPE 15th Forum, 2021 “RETHINKING ECONOMIC ANALYSIS: PERSPECTIVE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY”, at the Shanghai International Studies University, China on 18-19 December 2021 counted international participants, around 200 papers presented on a range of political economy subjects and hosted virtual panels for participating Marxist economists from outside China. The delivered program can be seen here.
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